On January 3, 2023, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 288 into law. This 500-page bill makes sweeping changes to numerous aspects of criminal law and the justice system. The bill also creates some new criminal offenses that did not previously exist in Ohio. The new laws take effect in April.
One part of the new law changes how felony and misdemeanor criminal charges can be sealed or expunged. The terms “sealing” and “expunging” mean the same thing – that the records are unavailable to the public, landlords, banks, and most employers. The records are still accessible by law enforcement and when a person applies for a job in law enforcement, joins the military, as well as some professional licensing boards.
Under Ohio’s current law, a person must wait for three years after they finish their sentence (probation or incarceration) to apply for expungement of any felonies. For misdemeanors, current law requires a person to wait for one year before applying to expunge their records. Ohio’s expungement laws last changed in 2011, which allowed Ohioans to expunge more than one felony or misdemeanor.
SB 288 makes the wait time even shorter for expungement applications. Starting in April, the time limits will be:
- For third degree felonies, three years from the end of the sentence;
- For fourth and fifth degree felonies and first through fourth degree misdemeanors, one year from the end of the sentence, so long as the charges are not offenses of violence; and,
- Six months for minor misdemeanors.
The law also allows people to expunge records five years after their obligation to register as a sex offender ends.
Once a person applies to have their record expunged, the court must set a hearing between 45 and 90 days. Prosecutors may file a brief opposing the expungement. Any victims of crimes involved will also be notified and may be heard at the hearing if they oppose expungement of the records. The final decision is up to a judge.
Not all felonies or misdemeanors qualify for expungement, consult with a lawyer to determine if your previous charges qualify.
In two upcoming advisories, we will cover the new texting and driving law, changes to the good Samaritan law, new opiate-related drug provisions, and the creation of new criminal offenses all created by SB 288.
Weston Hurd partner Paul M. Shipp focuses his practice on white collar criminal defense, criminal defense, business litigation, and general civil litigation. Paul received his B.A. from Bowling Green State University and obtained his J.D. from Cleveland State University College of Law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-687-3298.